Living in the Cinder Age
Once Upon a Time...
begins this well known tale, like all well known tales that have stood the test of time. That live in a place beyond time.
This is the story of an Orphan who has survived thousands of years, her story sprouting up through untended ground across cultures all over the Earth. This Orphan, it has been said by many over many years, had lost her mother when she was still very young to some accident or sickness. Perhaps they were trying to cross the border to freedom and her mother fell sick or was caught and imprisoned.
Or maybe her mother became addicted to drugs and in this way abandoned her daughter for her addiction. Or it could be that the young girl's mother had to work so much to survive and provide for them in a culture that does not support mothers and children’s needs, that the girl became an Orphan in this way. Whatever the case, the young Girl was an Orphan not only because her mother was no longer in her life, but also because she loses her father as well.
Maybe, as the story usually goes, the father was a merchant, or a hunter who had to provide for his family and left the daughter behind after remarrying a new woman when it became clear her own mother was either dead, or gone or absent.
Or maybe she was an Orphan because her father’s heart had been so wounded by his own upbringing in a family that shamed him when he showed his emotions and reprimanded him to “stop crying like a little girl.”
Or maybe the little girl lived in a world where the institutions that our fore fathers put into place were not there to protect her, but instead to make gains off of young and abandoned ones like herself.
At any rate, she was alone in the world with no mother of her own, and a father who was away all the time. But she did have a step mother and two step sisters who did not treat her very kindly at all.
In our time we have many kinds of Orphanhood. There are Climate Orphans-- thousands of people in our world displaced by a rapidly changing Climate, often refugees of political chaos and war. There are Soul Orphans--millions of Americans whose government and ideologies are failing them, abandoning them one day at a time with what many might call an Evil stepfather in the oval office ruling over the households of our nation.
And so begins the tale of The Little Cinder Girl.
The little Orphan girl was made to do all the chores around the home. The washing and mending, the cleaning and sweeping. And at the end of each day she would collapse by the hearth and sleep until dawn when the birds would sing their morning song and she would slowly rise from her slumber, covered in ashes from the cinders of the fire she had slept beside all night. The two step sisters taunted and teased their younger step sister calling her names: "Look, at her dirty face! Oh Cinder Ella! Sleeping by the fire again?"
And so begins the story of our time, living in the age of Cinders. Abandoned by the archetypal mother and father, awakening to a very real and global sense of Orphanhood.
What father and mother is this that I speak of? Our global culture, society, family and psyches and souls having been abandoned by promises of a golden future now being burned to the ground. Some of these old structures and thoughts lay useless in the ashes of a world dream gone wrong, turned to cinders in the hearth. And we find ourselves collapsed on the floor sleeping and dreaming. Searching for a new world dream. Wandering the ashen wasteland in search of a new beginning. And it is in these ashes from which we all come and to which we shall all return that the key to a new beginning can indeed be found.
It is the hearth after all, that is the heart of the home. The symbolic place of gathering that gives us light and nourishment. And so it is to the heart we return when the fire has gone out. When we are along and lost. And it is here in the ashes and cinders that lay dormant, that carry within them the possibility of a small spark or ember that will give life to a new light, a new fire to warm our souls.
And like little Cinder Ella we find ourselves given a huge task to tend to all the chores and tasks that others before us refused to take responsibility for. To pick up our brooms and get to sweeping up the environmental disasters created by capitalism. To mend and tend to the torn social structures that have left so many out in the cold, to go to the garden and plant and grow and harvest nourishing food that our ancestors traded in for microwave dinners and fast and flashy living.
Yes indeed, this just might be exactly where we find ourselves today. Soul Orphans. Little Cinder people alone and lost in our own homes.
And yet, this great loss of the cultural, familial, psychic and soul "parents" can work some strange magick in our world. When we find ourselves all alone.
Aloneness is just the condition needed to begin the process of awakening to our inner life. It is an opportunity not all are given, and even those who are given it, not all are brave enough to take the Left Hand path to a deeper life that such an opening can lead to. And it all begins with a death, with a great loss, that leaves us completely abandoned by everything and everyone we once knew. A recognition and awakening to the reality that on a soul level we come to this earth alone, and alone we too shall leave.
In older times societies had rites of passage and ceremonies that guided their young people into, through and beyond this initiation into the deeper aspects of our humanity. But in a world that has forgotten the importance of such rites, we often create these initiations through Trouble, through chaos, or Trouble finds us.
And so what at first begins as a Trouble, as a great betrayal or death of the old self, when given time to sleep and dream in the ashes, when given the tasks of cleaning, and sweeping and mending, just might transform into our greatest strength.
The world is now Awakening to this reality, of Orphan consciousness. The aloneness that is inherent in being alive on this earth. Now that we have conquered all corners of the Earth we have no were else to go but here. To face ourselves. And it is terrifying and it is breath taking and perhaps, even at times liberating. Maybe even wonder-Ful. For with this sense of meeting and facing our aloneness, come other gifts that we did not have access to before.
And what those gifts are, I am sure you might know or have many guesses as to what that treasure is. But more on that later. for now, I will leave you with this tale of our Little Cinder Girl. It is a story that comes from the people of this land. Turtle Island. A story from The algonquin or Mic-mac tribe. The story of "The Rough Faced Girl--Oochigeaskwa."
I am thrilled to be starting a Story & Myth Library and Archive where you can now listen, download and enjoy different versions of all the tales I tell in my classes, workshops and retreats.
Stay tuned for the "Made of Myth" podcast coming your way soon!
I would love to hear your thoughts about what it means to Live in the Cinder Age below.